This is the fifth post in a series on maximizing performance through managing energy based on the work of Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in their book, The Power of Full Engagement.
In earlier posts, I’ve discussed the physical, mental and emotional wellsprings of our energy and the importance of balancing and developing each source to maximize performance. The fourth wellspring, our spiritual energy, flows from our deepest values and purpose. This energy is the most powerful source of our motivation and perseverance. Without it, we run the risk of living expedient, dissatisfied and, paradoxically, less productive lives. To tap it, we must be connected to the things we hold most dear—giving them our time and attention, and to a purpose that extends beyond ourselves.
In his Harvard Business Review article, Tony Schwartz identified three important sources of spiritual energy: doing what you do best and enjoy most at work, allocating enough time to the areas of your life you think are most important, and living in accord with your deepest values. In each of these areas it’s important to become conscious of what matters most to you and to align your life in a way that nourishes those areas.
In the work I do with executives at the Federal Executive Institute, one of my favorite exercises is to ask participants to look at how they spend their time in a typical week and to determine if they are spending it in a way that’s consistent with what they value most. It’s a pretty sobering experience to identify something like your family as the most important thing in your life and then to see how little time you devote to them. But it’s an important realization. For some, it’s discouraging. For others, it’s life changing, because they realize that the way they spend their time matters deeply. Newly conscious of their unconscious choices, they have more control over what they do in the future.
As with the other wellsprings of energy, it is making small, incremental changes and forming new rituals that are most successful in boosting your spiritual energy and making higher performance possible. To spend more time at work on things you do well and enjoy most, you first have to find your “sweet spots”—the areas of work that are almost effortless, inspiring and productive for you. You then design ways to do more of these things and less of the work that bores and tires you. For example, a former colleague of mine enjoyed public speaking so much that he began conducting workshops for Dale Carnegie. That led to increased opportunities to do training in his regular job and finally to a role that was much more aligned with his passions.
Other rituals support connecting yourself to the things you care about most and your deepest values. One of my clients, a busy executive who wanted to devote more time to making pottery, a source of great satisfaction for him, worked two hours later one night and left work two hours early the next afternoon so he could have several hours of concentrated time in his studio at least one day during the work week. A client who deeply valued her relationship with God took 20 minutes each night to read the Bible before going to bed.
Because it is more intangible, we don’t realize what an important source of energy the spirit is to us. Even if we do, it is easy in our fast-paced lives to let external demands rather than internal callings dictate our actions. However, cutting ourselves off from this energy source is ultimately debilitating. The deep, spiritual part of our being is our connection to the Divine, to something greater than ourselves, to all life. What Schwartz and Loehr tell us is that tending to our spiritual selves is also practical. We become more productive.
For more ideas on small changes you can make to increase your mental energy:
contact Plum for a free brainstorming session: firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-261-6483.
read The Power of Full Engagement, http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=the+power+of+full+engagement+
For a free or an inexpensive Full Engagement Profile, see: http://www.lgeperformance.com/assessment_diagnostic.html
For more information about the authors of The Power of Full Engagement and their work, see:
Jim Loehr is the Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of the Human Performance Institute, http://www.lgeperformance.com/index.html .
Tony Schwartz is Founder and President of The Energy Project, http://www.theenergyproject.com/home.html .